Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 24-15-2 (+8.20 units)
Friday, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Free NCAAB Pick: Horns ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Maybe we should call the first day of winter on the NCAA basketball fixture ‘Big Friday.’ After all, it’s the last Friday of the schedule with a long list of contests, 59 to be exact, and nine of the teams participating hail from the Big East or Big 12, including a battle in Austin between the Providence Friars and Texas Longhorns.
The evening tip at Erwin Center can be seen on ESPN2 with Chuckie Kempf and Robbie Hummel behind the mics, and a glance at the NCAA basketball odds board finds the Longhorns favored by a couple of long-range bombs with the upper-130s for the scoreboard target.
Injury Robs Friars Of Best Outside Shooter
Ed Cooley brings his Friars to Austin for their final non-conference game before the Big East slate begins 10 days from now. It’s just the second road game of the season for Providence, the first taking place at Boston College a couple of weeks back when the Friars enjoyed one of their best offensive performances with a 100-95 overtime win as 3½-point underdogs. It will be the team’s third game since losing AJ Reeves to a foot injury, the freshman guard averaging over 14 PPG and serving as the best deep threat for Providence. Reeves is expected to return in about three weeks.
Shaka Smart and the Longhorns have one more matchup at home before playing their first true road game of the campaign at Kansas State to begin the Big 12 schedule. Playing well on the defensive end all season, the Texas offense has been finding its mark the last two games on 60-of-110 shooting from the field, and better than 49% success rate from 3-point land. The Longhorns have scored a couple of notable wins as underdogs, a 92-89 upset of North Carolina in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving and more recently at home against Purdue, a 72-68 final getting two points at Bookmaker. Texas started the season with 4-straight ‘under’ winners, but the totals have split the last six trips to the floor.
Horns Have Covered Last Two Encounters
Friday is the first of a home-&-home series between the schools, Texas visiting Rhode Island next season, and the sixth meeting overall between the Longhorns and Friars. Texas has won three of the previous five, the most recent taking place nearly 15 years ago at Providence where the Longhorns pulled off a 79-77 overtime win as 2-point underdogs.
It’s a pity so many Texas fans are still focused more on the football team instead of their hoopsters who play scrappy defense and are starting to get it going on offense. Make my free NCAA basketball pick on the home side.